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Top Morning Stories 12/7/11: Austin's Formula One Race is On, TX Parks & Wildlife Asking for Help

Photo by KUT News.
Construction is set to resume immediately for the Circuit of the Americas track southeast of Austin. Local organizers have reached a deal with Formula One management for the 2012 race.

Austin's F1 Race is On

Local organizers told KUT News this morning that an agreement has been reached over a contract with Formula One management. Also today in New Dehli, India the World Motor Sport Council officially approved the 2012 F1 calendar. It includes Austin’s U.S. Grand Prix next November. F1 Boss Bernie Ecclestone had set today as the final deadline to reach a deal for Austin’s race after the contract had been in dispute.

Red McCombs, chairman of McCombs Enterprises and founding partner of Circuit of The Americas said in a statement, “Mr. Ecclestone received his check today. We want to thank the fans supporting us, the local officials and businesses that have encouraged us, the State of Texas, Circuit of The Americas’ staff and Bernie himself.”

“We have a substantial number of fans who have expressed interest in buying tickets and hospitality, so today is a win for all of them as much as it is for Circuit of The Americas,” said Steve Sexton, president of Circuit of The Americas, in the same written statement.

Race organizers say construction on the track southeast of Austin will resume immediately. Construction had been halted three weeks ago.

TPWD Pleading for Public's Help

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says it’s in a critical situation and is asking for the public’s help to keep state parks open. The Department is trying to raise $4.6 million. Parks have been seeing fewer visitors because of the drought, the record hot summer and wildfires.

About half of the state parks operating budget comes from fees paid by park visitors. Texas Parks and Wildlife is asking for tax-deductible donations and for families to visit state parks this holiday season. Also, starting next month there will be a new $5 check-off box on applications to renew vehicle registrations.

FEMA:Wildfire Aid Surpasses $32 Million

FEMA reports aid to Texas wildfire survivors since September has topped $32 million. Disaster recovery officials say $13 million was doled out in federal and state recovery grants:

The $13 million includes $10.5 million in rental assistance and grants to repair and rebuild homes, as well as $2.4 million for other disaster-related needs such as personal property, medical care and funeral expenses. More than $62,000 in Disaster Unemployment Assistance has gone to workers or the self-employed who lost their jobs or have been unable to work due to the disaster. The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more than $18 million in low-interest disaster loans for 162 homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes affected by the wildfires.